Hands have always been a special symbol and image of love for me. It wasn’t until I recognized my grandfather’s once-familiar, farm-hardened, weathered hands, gently laid one over the other in a pose of rest at his funeral, that I finally knew this man really was the same one I had adored all my life. It was only then I was able to say goodbye. My grandmother’s gift to me that same day was his wedding ring. I am wearing it even now, 25 years later.
When I pray, I often “see” my hands cupped, lifted to my Abba Father to receive cool water of blessing to overflowing. Other times, it is God’s hands I “see,” strong, fatherly and large, confidently holding mine. My hand is small in His but safe and sure.
Three weeks ago I took my first retreat alone, just God and I together, in a cabin two hours away from my suburban home. One morning when I read a passage from Revelation 1:11-18, I was struck anew at how Jesus, radiating eye-blinding power and glory before John, who fell to the ground in fear, simply reassured his old friend with the touch of his once-familiar hand and said, “Do not be afraid!”
Life is so uncertain. Battles, weariness and heartaches are simply a part of life’s landscape, special needs or not. Yes, we have joy and blessing and victories. But no life is without its heartaches.
For three days I retreated from that landscape. I rested and focused on God, Abba Father, Jesus and the Spirit. And in that time of much-needed space for healing, there was only quiet, my favorite tea and coffee, prayerful walks and springtime beauty. No fear. No anxiety. No stress. No demands. This was a great and loving gift from my husband who I knew was holding down the fort at home.
The night before I was to return, I wrote:
“Lord, I am about to re-enter the battle tomorrow. That is what life feels like these days. But you lay your right hand on me, too, and say, “Don’t be afraid!’”
In those last hours before getting in the car to return home, I had been reminded in a fresh way how near Jesus is. He will never give up on my hit-and-miss parenting, or leave me for getting it wrong (or leave my children!).
Despite all his thundering power and blinding glory, he is still the same one who knows my weakness and my need and calls me by name. He is still the same one who wants to make me breakfast by the shore, as he did his friends so long ago. He is still the same one who is not offended by my doubts and fears but invites me to touch his side and the wounds of his hands, as he once did for Thomas. And he is still the same one who loves nothing better than to gather me to him like a child in his arms as he did the children his disciples dismissed as unimportant.
Two hours later, I pulled into my drive, turned off my worship music and sat one last moment in the silence. Something had changed. True, my circumstances were the same. I was returning to the same challenges and rhythms of life. But by retreating into the hands of God for rest, Jesus became present to me. More real. He reminded me I am never alone in the battles and victories. He is always with me, every dish-washing, kid-at-the-bathroom-door-pounding, IEP or therapy moment of my day. He is with me. He is with you. Even now. And best of all, his hand is holding ours.
“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me, and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look! I am alive forever and ever!” –Rev 1:11-18 (Emphasis mine.)
–Kelli Ra Anderson, author Divine Duct Tape and soon to be released, Life on the Spectrum, stories of growth, struggle and faith in the very real challenges of special needs parenting. Feel free to visit me on Facebook– I would love to meet you on my daily devotional on Facebook, Divine Duct Tape!
Latest posts by Kelli Ra Anderson (see all)
- Calming our Anxiety in Special Needs Parenting - August 24, 2015
- Victory in the Seeming Loss of Special Needs Advocacy - June 22, 2015
- Retreating in God’s Hands: respite for the special needs parent - May 25, 2015